Posted: December 26th, 2021
1. In what ways does the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 change America? What lasting inventions/ideas did it introduce into American culture? What important figures were critically influenced by the Fair? 2. After the Fair ended, Ray Stannard Baker noted, “What a human downfall after the magnificence and prodigality of the World’s Fair which has so recently closed its doors! Heights of splendor, pride, exaltation in one month: depths of wretchedness, suffering, hunger, cold, in the next” . What is the relationship between the opulence and grandeur of the Fair and the poverty and degradation that surrounded it? In what ways does the Fair bring into focus the extreme contrasts of the Gilded Age? What narrative techniques does Larson use to create suspense in the book? How does he end sections and chapters of the book in a manner that makes the reader anxious to find out what happens next? 3. How was Holmes able to exert such power over his victims? What weaknesses did he prey upon? Why wasn’t he caught earlier? In what ways does his story “illustrate the end of the century”  as the Chicago Times‐Herald wrote? 4. Rhetoric is the art of using language effectively to please or persuade. What is the rhetorical purpose of Erik Larson’s copious use of detail in his description of the creation of the fair? What would have been lost if he had left the details out and just started with the opening day of the fair? 5. What is the rhetorical purpose of Larson’s juxtaposition of Holmes and Burnham? 6. Copy at least two passages, long or short, that strike you for any reason. Underline keywords or phrases. What is striking? Why? How do the words and images work?
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